Jim Stynes, who left his Irish homeland to become one of the greats of Australian Rules football, has died at the age of 45 following a long battle with cancer, his family said on Tuesday.
Stynes was recruited in the mid-1980s by the Melbourne AFL club from Ireland and went on to become decorated as the first international player to win the sport's highest honour, the Brownlow Medal, in 1991.
The giant ruckman holds the AFL record for the greatest number of consecutive games at 244 over 11 years and played a total of 264 matches for the Melbourne Demons after making his senior debut in 1987.
But his stature went beyond his on-field deeds as he took over as Melbourne chairman in mid-2008 when the oldest AFL club was in dire financial straits and steered them to financial stability.
He was awarded an Order of Australia in 2007 and was Victorian of the Year in 2003.
Stynes fought an inspirational public battle against cancer over more than two years, undergoing some 20 operations, including many to have brain tumours removed.
He was saluted by diverse sections of Australian sport with John Coates, President of the Australian Olympic Committee, praising his tenacity and endurance.
"His most recent battle against cancer touched the entire (Australian) sporting community," Coates said. "Jim Stynes was an inspiration to all on and off the field of play."
Stynes passed away with his wife Sam and two children by his side early Monday.